We’ve made our way to the “run some tracks a second time” portion of the schedule, kicked off by the Pocono Doubleheader a few weeks ago. We’re now back to Atlanta after initially visiting in March; how much has the track changed since then? How will the weather affect today’s drive? How about the shift from 500 to 400 miles? So many variables! This is the last time we’ll have to deal with them though; we’ve got a reconfiguration coming for 2022, and the first repave since 1997. But first: today!
Here’s what to look for:
-We haven’t run this race in the Summer/Fall since 2014, so our most recent winner is, well, Ryan Blaney from March! Slow start here, but his last two races have been a 4th and a 1st respectively. Those finishes are getting better, and you can’t do better than 1st so….1st again?
–Kevin Harvick won the 2020 race here, and is actually the highest points-earner in the last ten races (417) with a 6.6 average finish. This is where he got his first Win way back in 2001, a few races removed from taking over for the late Dale Earnhardt in the #29. Harvick is still seeking his first Win of this season, something very different from last year where he won more than 20% of the races.
-Like Harvick before him, Martin Truex Jr. also has nine Top 10s in his last ten attempts here. That is pretty solid. He will be tested today, however. Despite any past success, that doesn’t dictate his starting position…because he’s headed to the back after failing inspection. Twice. This isn’t impossible though, and we’ve actually seen drivers recently dig from 40th and end up 1st. Watch out for this guy, he’ll be determined!
–Kyle Busch won the Xfinity race yesterday, and seems like he might finally be retiring from that Series. He looks to complete the double this weekend, one of five active drivers to have hit Victory Lane since 2012. Love him or hate him, 100+ wins is pretty impressive. Really makes you try to wrap your head around Richard Petty’s 200 Cup victories though, doesn’t it?
–Ricky Stenhouse Jr. kept his streak of Atlanta Top 20s alive in the Spring, and actually put up one of his best finishes. In the last six races, his best finish was a 10th, but finished 12th in Week 6. He isn’t typically a guy who you’d look at outside of those restrictor plate-type races, but he’s really had a knack for this track.
Back in New York, the schedule is free this weekend, and you know what that means…Nascar Food time!
Our travels have brought us upon another exciting venture, this time taking the form of Brunswick Stew. It is a mix of shredded rotisserie chicken, ground beef, and pork, with corn, tomatoes, a green pepper, onions and celery, and residing among Sticky Lips Hickory BBQ sauce and dashes of hot sauce. It is overly meaty, and it knows it. Sort of a “cosmic gumbo.” And my, very delicious. Early reports are along the lines of “wow, I didn’t expect it to taste that good.” I mean, I did, everything Lisa makes for this stuff is wonderful (and so happy to share it with you here). And this is another hit. I, of course, could do without the celery and onions, preferring to just shovel it in and wolf it down, but there are so many other flavors that I’m probably taking in incidental stuff and not even knowing it, truthfully. We’ll be nursing this thing all afternoon. Nailed it! Another bullseye, Leese!
Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 3:30pm, green flag scheduled for 3:48pm.